After braving the rain and thunderous skies this spring, the final phase of our Three Trees and a River Project was quite a ride. We collaborated with Front Range Earth Force, students from Gilpin E-8 Montessori School in Denver, CO, and the Garden Club of Denver to plant native trees at the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield to help restore habitat for local wildlife. Students and volunteers worked diligently to plant whips and young saplings into the moist, muddy ground. We marked our trees with a dedication so we could return in the future to check on the progress of the trees we planted.
After an afternoon of practicing survival skills and camping under the stars, the excitement of their final trip together was yet to come. The next day, students teamed up with City Wild for an experience of a lifetime by rafting down the sometimes gentle, sometimes thrilling current of the South Platte River. Although they floated away with some initial trepidation, students ended the trip with new found courage, respect for the water, and smiles that could not be erased for days.
From water monitoring in the fall, surviving in the wilderness during the fall and spring, planting trees, and racing down rapids, students came away from this experience with a new respect for nature, the skills to explore the outdoors again, and the knowledge to protect it for future generations. Although there wasn’t one particular moment that stood out above the rest, the teamwork and support we saw in all of the students was impressive. The ability they had to overcome their fears as they learned to trust themselves was phenomenal. The positive attitude and sense of pride that emanated from each and every student as they said goodbye and walked back to the van wishing there was more time to do it all again, spoke much louder than words could ever express.
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A very special thanks goes out to everyone who made this pilot project possible, including: REI and Mustache 4 Cash supporters for funding the project, Front Range Earth Force and Gilpin Montessori E-8 School for organizing the students to work with, and the Garden Club of Denver, the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, and City Wild for helping us execute the project. If you are interested in helping us scale and replicate this project with other public schools in the future, please contact Ford Church at 303.447.1076.